So it is official. I am now 40 years old. I have not been looking forward to this day at all. And of course my kids help me ring in the new decade as only they can. Anna decides last night that she is going to get in on the act. She is going to start having night terrors and start sleep walking. She had a night terror that lasted over an hour. She was running all over the house, screaming and crying. It was so sad. But know what is even more heartbreaking? Sara ended up sleeping with Chuck in our bed, Anna finally settled in on the couch at around 2:30 a.m. and I ended up falling asleep on the living room floor. What a way to ring in the new decade!!
I know that everyone says, "40 is the new 20"..."40 is Fabulous"...etc...etc. I know deep down that is all true but I can't get out of my head the idea that IF I live until 80 my life is half over. If I don't make it to 80 my life is MORE than half over. YUCK!! In an effort to improve my odds I have been trying to get healthier...I did not quite make my quest of "40 by 40"...meaning losing 40 pounds by my 40th birthday but I did take a big bite out of that by losing 27 pounds! Yay me! Honestly, I don't think I look 40 and I don't feel like I act 40. I still remember my sister throwing me a surprise 13th birthday party. I can not get over the fact that was 27 years ago!! It seems like just a few years ago. Chuck knows that I have been having a really hard time accepting that I am turning the BIG 4-0 so he went to great lengths to help me start this new decade off right. If this past weekend was any indication I think I may just be OK.
So all I knew about the weekend was that we were going away overnight. That I needed to take a vacation day on Sunday. That I needed a dress and we were all set with a babysitter. Other than that I was in the dark. So last week I had to head out for the dreaded dress shopping excursion. In an effort to keep my marriage and family together I went shopping alone. Since I had some mild success at the Dress Barn last spring (the last time I wore a dress was for a wedding...remember that sh*t show? If you need a refresher read my old blog posts...it is well documented!) I decided to start there. Are you sitting down? I found one! IN RECORD TIME...45 minutes! I actually found 2 that I could have gone with. I have never had choices. I usually just settle for something that doesn't look horrible. In addition to losing the 27 pounds I have dropped 3 dress sizes since the wedding debacle. I started Weight Watchers right after that nightmare. It paid off! I was able to wear a dress AND be comfortable. Until this past weekend I never thought those 2 things could be done at the same time. Huh, who knew? Chuck was shocked, SHOCKED when I came home, before lunch with a dress, shoes and jewelry. It made for a much more pleasant afternoon than he had anticipated.
So Saturday morning comes, my dad comes and gets the girls and they drive off without a hitch. Well, kind of...I leaned in to kiss Sara goodbye and she told me "I want to go to Bucka's to sleepover, but I don't want to go in his car, I want you to drive me there instead". I answered with, "Yup, I know you do...not gonna happen." as I closed the car door and headed in the house and watched them drive away. FREEDOM!!!! So we head in town for lunch. I am told I can pick either Chinese, Mexican or Spanish food. The Chinese restaurant, though hip and on the waterfront was still Chinese food. Something I can get anytime. I do like Mexican but I am kind of particular about it....I am in the small percent of the population that thinks cilantro tastes like dirty dish water. I want to enjoy my lunch, not have to pick out the small green bits. I chose Spanish food (and yes my friends, they are 2 completely different things). We park the car and stroll down Newbury Street. It was so beautiful...the snow was softly falling and the white Christmas lights were twinkling. It felt like we were dating! We go to Tapeo for lunch and enjoy some delicious Sangria and tapas. It reminded us of our best pre-kids vacation to Barcelona. The tension and stress of day to day life was wearing off. We were really starting to relax. Lunch was done and it was on to the afternoon activity. Again, I had a couple of things to choose from. We went with an afternoon movie. When we were in line for tickets we could not remember the last movie we saw in a theater....together...without kids. Seriously, we could not remember. I am sure at some point we did see a movie together but we are still drawing a blank. We went to see Argo and it was glorious. The movie was good but I did not have to sit in a contorted position with a leg across the adjacent seat in an attempt to hold it down so one of my girls doesn't collapse inside the seat. I felt so FREE!!!
After the movie we head to the hotel to check in. Pretty swanky... complimentary wine throughout the hotel...nice call Chuck! We get to our room and get ready for dinner. Me in my dress and Chuck in a jacket and tie!! Yes, let that sink in for a minute. Chuck and I consider ourselves amateur foodies (minus the pretentiousness). We don't go out very often but when we do we do it right. However, if you take the amount we spend on dinner and average it out over the course of 12 months we still spend less than most couples that go out on a regular basis. For my birthday Chuck pulled out all the stops and we went to what has to be the fanciest restaurant in all of Boston...L'Espalier. Let me describe the experience for you...through the eyes of someone that is not so fancy. First, we open the door to the restaurant and you walk into a little cubby type space. There a woman greets us with a fancy French accent asking if we had reservations. We say we do and she instructs us to get into the elevator. We do. It takes her a minute to realize we don't know what floor we are going to. Again, in her accent she tells us. Up we go. I do notice a plush chair in the elevator...Chuck comments that rich people get tired easy...they must need to sit on the long 2 floor ride up. The elevator opens up to an elegant looking man, again with a French accent welcoming us, by name, to the restaurant. Oh my...I can sense we are in for a treat. I also sense, though I can not prove, that these two may not have been all that they seemed. I have this feeling that the accents may not have been authentic. In my mind I think the lady at the first door was really Carla from Eastie and the elegant man really may have been Sully from Southie and their conversation may have been slightly less elegant. Please read this with a thick, overly stereotyping Boston accent...Once the elevator door closes Carla calls up to Sully..."Hey, Sully...it's Cah-lah...just want to tell youz guys up the-air that weeze got two more a-holes comin up for ah-nutha wicked ova-priced dinnah" Sully responds, "aw, that's fah-kin pissah Car-lah.". The door opens and Sully greets us with his smooth, "Bonjour Mademoiselle and Monsuier L__________". Not sure which is true, but my version is more fun.
So we sit down for dinner. I look around and everyone is very fancy. There was a gentleman there in a tuxedo. Now normally if you are out to dinner at say at Bennigans or a Fridays and you see a guy come in with a tux on you automatically think they were in a wedding earlier in the day. Nope, not here. I think that is his normal Saturday night attire. So we decide to go with a tasting menu. It was about 10 courses of food, none of which I could identify. You know it is fancy when you are not allowed to choose your own appetizer. They just bring them to you because they know better. They bring us these tiny little bits of food on a silver serving tray. At first I was confused. I thought that kids were not allowed in this place. Why did they have Calico Critter food on my plate? Were my kids hidden in the back making me dinner? Nope, that was the real size of the food!! With each course they had someone come out and explain what it was. Which was not as helpful as you would think...with some of it I was even more confused when they told me what I was eating. I did feel like I was a judge on Chopped or Iron Chef...I had cardomin ice-cream...lime something another with a champagne veil. Not sure what it was but Chuck declared it the best champagne veil he has ever had. We fell into the bread trap...which in their defense is genius. In between each course they come around with fresh bread so you of course you take it. I say it is genius because they give you these teeny-tiny portions yet you go home feeling full from all the bread. It is a win-win...I guess. One of the courses comes and no word of a lie it is 2 tiny cauliflower florets with 2 pearl onions in a big bowl. Now at this point I have had 3 glasses of wine (ridiculously over priced wine...if I were to use the same amount of money for those 3 glasses of wine I could have bought 6 bottles of wine in the "real world"!)...so with the wine on board I am about to burst out laughing over my tiny portion, fortunately they came and added 2 ladles of rutabaga soup. Have no fear my friends, I did not leave hungry...in the next course they gave me 3 halves of brussel sprouts. Let me do the math for you...that is 1 1/2 brussel sprouts. No wonder the French are so much thinner than Americans. Don't get me wrong the food was AMAZING and it was a really cool experience and had we won Powerball last week we may have become regulars...we even had a palette cleansing course before the desserts. Or dessert-ettes I should say. They were delicious but I would have preferred them to be a tad larger than Japanese Erasers. The dinner came to an end and we were waiting for the elevator with "Le Sully" when Chuck buttons up his dinner jacket. The button crumbles under his hand. Yup, that is about right. Just when we think we pull off this glamorous night of being the "beautiful people" something comes up and knocks us back to reality.
So the weekend comes to an end after brunch at the hotel restaurant. I swear that Captain Sully Sullenberg was 2 tables over from us. Chuck didn't believe me but when we got home he googled him and now he thinks I was right. We pick up the kids and head home. Though we were only gone for a little bit more than 24 hours it felt like days. Thank you to Chuck for giving me a much needed break from reality. I LOVED it!!
So back to today...my actual birthday. Sara and Anna told me that they wanted to do something special with me today for my birthday. I asked what they were thinking. They wanted to take me out to lunch at a restaurant. But then Sara added they had 2 problems with their idea. #1. They can't drive and #2. They have no money. So I had to drive and pay for my own birthday lunch. Again, that seems about right. Of course they had a special restaurant in mind. Red Robin! It is a burger place. Just the place a vegetarian wants to celebrate a special event. Of course Sara has an ulterior motive. She tells me that Red Robin is right next to Claire's and that they have fashion glasses there. You see Sara got some devastating news last week. We took her to the eye doctor to see about her eye poking ways and she was told she did NOT need glasses. She was heartbroken and lets me have it the whole way home..."You never let me get anything I want"... as if it is my "fault" her eye sight is fine. I know, I am an awful mother...I should have scratched her eye or something before we went in to make her dreams come true. So she has set her sights (pun intended) on a pair of fashion glasses...so I don't think she really cared about my birthday today...I think it was more of a means to an end. So once again, despite today being a major and not very welcome milestone in my life...it is not about me. Yes, I am now 40 years old...but I am a 40 year old MOM...and I guess that is what comes above all else. Happy Birthday to me!!